Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Watching paint dry

Describing something dull as being as interesting as watching paint dry might be surprisingly innacurate at the small scale. If it were possible to take a video of polymers in the paint coming together and forming stable structures, and water molecules lifting off the surface, it would be fascinating to watch. Something like watching ice crystals growing on a window in slow motion or a flower blooming on a time-lapse camera. Previously, it has not been possible to watch and record atoms and molecules do their stuff in real time. Now, though, it is. A new machine from a company called Infinitesima allows this, and one of the first markets they expect for it is for companies studying the properties of drying paint. Subscribers to the Economist can read more: Not as boring as you thought, Jan 6th 2005.